https://www.duolingo.com/krazychris61

Thoughts from a beginner living in China

I recently moved to China a month ago to volunteer at an institute and have never spoke Chinese before. Therefore I am using and testing this course for real life everyday use now. I honestly feel that it is VERY inefficient. The lessons always start drilling characters without teaching you the concept/meaning behind it until the very end. Therefore, for 80% or more of the lesson I am learning characters and pinyin without knowing what concept I should stick it to in my mind, I'm just learning "static".

I believe the course could be FAR more efficient if the lessons were 50/50 on character/pinyin drills, and meaning/concept drills. ESPECIALLY, if they were blended better. So far it feels like there is a separation in the lesson. First character drills, then concept drills, rarely alternating. After 10 lessons, the MOST concept drills I have seen in a single lesson was 5 out of 26 questions. I typically see 3 or less.

December 2, 2017

25 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/rcuadrado

I've also just moved to China and I disagree.

First, I'd point out that this is a free course and Chinese is an extremely difficult language. I see you are on Chinese level 3... The idea that you'll be able to communicate in chinese after such few lessons is... well... laughable.

There are many courses similar to duolingo like chinese skill and hello chinese that have some of the features you mention.

For some reason I found duolingo to be so far the most effective in helping me understand the basic concepts of the language. Obviously you'll have to do your homework and go through duolingo with a notepad next to you in order to reinforce the concepts.

So I'm sorry that you couldn't master chinese after playing with a free app for 2 hours. You should definitely hire a local teacher. There is no better way to learn.

Good luck!

December 4, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/SarahBecraft

I'm on German level 4 which is a level 1 language compared to English.

I can understand "man/men" "woman/women", "girl/girls", "I", "you", "water", "bread"... I'm definitely not having any conversations on politics right now ;)

December 12, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/ID-007
  • 1310

Assuming that you are not using the WEB version, I feel for you! There is a lot more to the course IF you could access the WEB version... IMO, the Tools and Tips are gold... Too bad they are not available in the APP versions...

December 2, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/krazychris61

I have been using the web version, and I do not believe the app version is out yet. But I completely agree with you. The tips for each lesson are amazing. I just believe the lessons need to be fine tuned with the frequency of exposure to the different skills. Which is to be expected. Languages with written scripts outside of Latin are relatively new for Duolingo. So it will take work and fine tuning to make the learn experience the best possible.

December 2, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/varigby

If you are living in China and you have never studied Chinese before, then your priorities are speaking/listening. Reading/writing are not skills you need that much when starting out.

December 2, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/krazychris61

I also understand if it takes a while for this to happen. I'm not sure how Duolingo's backbone and program is written and it is entirely possible that the programmers may need to completely rebuild Duos frame work to make tweaking and fine tuning of this nature possible.

December 2, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/varigby

I would not expect any major changes to the Chinese course anytime soon.

December 2, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/rcuadrado

I suggest you don't give up. Duolingo doesn't compare to an actual teacher, but I'm finally being able to understand many things I read and hear. Give it time. It's learning through repetition.

December 4, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/ID-007
  • 1310

In that case, you may want to keep going. There are lots of sentence structures that you could find useful in day to day conversations. I am half way through the course and find it beneficial (although I am not living in China!). I wish you the best with your real Immersion!

December 5, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Harry297220

I totally agree!

December 2, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Rajabrahon12

I totally agree

December 2, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/fraisdebois

try ‘hello chinese’. it is far superior to duolingo.

December 2, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/lucychamberlain

I agree :)

November 25, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/phb2013

If Chinese is totally new to you then you may not realize that a character often has many meanings. The same is true for pinyin words. That's why recognizing the characters and tones is so important in Chinese. Take the pinyin "shi". Replace "hello" with "shi" at this website https://www.mdbg.net/chinese/dictionary?wdqb=hello to see how many characters are represented by that pinyin word. Perhaps that's part of the reason Duolingo chose this particular format for teaching Chinese. What a wonderful opportunity you have to learn the language well.

December 3, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/whatfor

I agree, i started this course after having completed two level of a in class learning course here in china, The Duolingo course does kind of a bad job of telling you what words mean what, i would have been completely lost if i hadn't learnt a bit before hand. The spoken sentences are also ridiculously fast so that you may not catch the nuances of some of the sentences leading to incorrect answers.

December 21, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/DonutEggRoll

It seems that many of the additional sentences come about when you use the Strengthen Skill feature. I think the lessons are good at introducing characters through their pinyin/sounds and then finally the meaning through a few example sentences at the end, and when you strengthen is where you would get more concept-drill sentences.

December 2, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/varigby

I think the lessons are good at introducing characters through their pinyin/sounds and then finally the meaning

But you have to ask why keep the meaning a secret until much later? How does that help? I have never heard of anyone learning like that before. Native speakers don't!

It wasn't something I noticed at first, because I already knew all the characters on this course, but it would have been a major hurdle if I was a beginner.

December 2, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/DonutEggRoll

I can see how it may look like a strange method of teaching to those already familiar with Mandarin or other Chinese languages, but I feel that it has been working out well so far for me. Granted, I am an absolute beginner and have only completed past the first checkpoint of the course, but what has always intimidated me about learning Chinese is how to actually pronounce the characters. Sure, the characters on their own have their intrinsic meanings when written while pinyin alone can be used to teach speaking. However it seems that learning the writing system and spoken sounds together to be an effective practice. I have always wondered how this sort of method could be applied to Chinese, and honestly I think Duolingo has got it at the basic level.

I like that here we learn the sounds first associated with a character and then learn the meaning of the combination of the character and its sound. With practice, the sounds, characters and meanings all become one. Perhaps I am still too naive in my knowledge of this behemoth of a language, but I think this course is very nice in sampling Mandarin without being too overwhelming so far. Choosing the correct characters via the matching sentence exercises is helpful at first but moving on to being able to type the pinyin and selecting the correct character from a list becomes much more helpful to stabilize all 3 aspects involved in a Chinese character (sound, graphic, meaning).

December 2, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/varigby

黃先生

好吧. 很抱歉. 我願意聽你的話. 我改一下. 這樣子行嗎?

December 2, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Mr.rM
  • 1500

對牛彈琴 means “cast pearls before swine; choose the wrong audience”, 我懶得 means “I am lazy to …”.

Why being this rude, man?

December 2, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Mr.rM
  • 1500

@NasuSamuruk0 Well, it is odd that he didn't speak English in the first place.

December 2, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/NasuSamaruk0

Mr.rM

I believe he means "我盡力而為", which implies "I did the best I could".

"我懶得對牛彈琴", as you thought, sounds a bit crude. However, I understand in terms of varigby's meaning, he wants to express "I'm tired of talking with someone who doesn't appreciate".

Since it expresses "double negative" and unnatural, I do not think anyone would even say things like this.

December 2, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/NasuSamaruk0

那現在更好。 :)

December 3, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/phb2013

Thanks, Thechravis.. That's good to know.

December 3, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Elizabeth999999

is it because the people there are using slang

December 5, 2017
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